You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. – Buddha
Do you take care of yourself? Are you kind to yourself? Do you love yourself as much as you love your best friend, your siblings, your parents?
Or do you spend your time looking after others? Taking care of everyone else? Happy to give, but uncomfortable in receiving?
I’ve been talking a lot about self-care recently. About the need for all of us to look after ourselves, take care of ourselves, and be kind to ourselves.
And there are two big objections people give me as to why self-care is low on their list of priorities. Excuses as to why they’re prepared to run themselves ragged looking after others and not take five minutes to themselves.
The first is that they don’t have time. Looking after themselves isn’t realistic or feasible given their crazy schedules and more pressing concerns.
And the second, closely linked, is a belief that self-care is selfish. They need to take care of other people, and don’t have the time – and implicitly, the right – to spend time on themselves.
I want to address these and convince you once and for all, that you are worth as much time, effort and energy as you’re prepared to spend on others, and these excuses are just that – excuses.
In the absence of excuses, anything is possible – Jason Vale
Why you do have time for Self-Care
It’s a tough realisation, but everything you do is a choice. Sometimes the choice might feel between a rock and a hard place, but it’s all a choice.
- Said yes to having dinner with a friend when you just wanted to curl up with a book? It’s a choice.
- Agreed to help your sister declutter her wardrobe when you’re tired and have just done a 60-hour week? It’s a choice.
- Accepted another piece of work from your boss when your in-tray’s already overflowing? It’s a choice.
I’m not saying all of these are bad choices. Sometimes when we’re feeling low, it can make us feel good to help others (assuming that helping others isn’t an addiction in itself ).
Sometimes it’s the right thing to help someone else.
But sometimes, helping someone else is just another drain on your energy.
Until eventually you have nothing left to give.
The two bottles that represent your life
Our time and our energy are finite resources. To help you imagine this, think of two beautiful coloured glass bottles filled to the brim with a liquid.
One bottle is labelled ‘time’, and one is labelled ‘energy’.
Now, every time you engage in an activity, whether it’s for yourself or for someone else, pour out the appropriate amount from the time bottle. That’s straightforward. The full bottle represents all the time you have your lifetime, and every activity takes a little time. The bottle becomes steadily more empty as your life progresses…
The energy bottle is less straightforward. Some activities deplete your energy, and others replenish it.
Many of the activities that increase the fluid in the energy bottle are self-care activities
What increases the fluid in your bottle might be different from mine. For me, reading quietly, having a massage, and spending time one-on-one with a close friend all help to replenish the fluid. They increase my energy levels rather than deplete them. They’re all ways in which I take care of myself.
For you, being at a party might replenish your energy. Or exercise. Or writing in your journal. The ways in which we can take care of ourselves are endless!
Why Self-Care isn’t selfish
If you only engage in activities that deplete your bottle, that is, all the activities that you do pour a little of the liquid away, eventually you’ll be no good to anyone. You will have no energy left for you or anyone in your life. You’ll be empty.
And if you’re empty, you’ll have nothing left to give anyone else in your life anyway. Your friends and family – who love you – will be worried about you. And you’ll feel unhappy, exhausted and have had enough.
We all have 24 hours in our day, and whilst sometimes it might feel that you’re the passive participant in your life, you’re not. You have the power – and the choice – to say no (!).
It might not be easy, but taking back control in your life will mean that you can both use the fluid in your ‘time’ bottle in the ways you choose, and you can make sure that your ‘energy’ bottle is both depleted and filled, remaining at a consistent level.
Not only do you have the time for Self-Care – if you choose – but rather than being selfish, it’s a responsible and mature activity to include in your day to day.
Taking care of your own needs, physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual is core to you being the very best version of you!